The Prequel, ahhh. The prequel! Well my friendly and ever so helpful butcher managed to obtain a magnificent specimen of a lamb for me weighing in at around 40 pounds weight. I needn’t have worried about foot and mouth and livestock not being able to travel, this guy did me proud and came up with the goods. In fact he was so helpful about storage, cooking and carving advice; I am going to give him a plug. You can find him at Carr lane nurseries on the Meols Stretch on the Wirral, go through the nursery and into the courtyard and you will find him there, Tell him Smokehouse sent you.
Onto the day itself, as usual I was up early stoking the flames aided by my neighbour Roger Moore. No, he does not look like Roger Moore, but he is a true saint and I could not have done what I did without his help and unstinting support and eagerness. RM and me loaded up the firebox and spent an hour getting the coals to glow and adding wood to build up a nice heat. (Tip don’t add green or wet wood to the coals, they don’t light and make a lot of smoke, sorry neighbours.) The said Beast ( we could not decide if it was larry or Loretta) was skewered and heaved onto the spit supports and turned 15 degrees every ten minutes. We even used a mobile phone to give us an alarm call every ten minutes while we chopped wood and generally got covered in smoke coughed our lungs up. While us two were slaving away over hot coals TB sorted out the salads and accompaniments. Four hours in and I started to baste the beast although that may be an unfortunate turn of phrase as THE BEAST turned up several hours later. No I basted the slowly turning lamb with a mixture of mustard powder, fresh mint and rosemary combined with water and boiled up until it became thick and gloopy enough to stay on the surface of the animal. Six hours later and the job was done.
It was time to carve and relax with drinks and lots of them! This job I left to BC and her cousin the Fire engine who also sorted out the salads between them plus a huge tray of roasted potatoes. The potatoes were roasted in a mixture of garlic granules and dried mixed herbs and cooked in Beef dripping. Special mention goes to these as most people who have sampled them marvel at the taste and then ask what the crunchy bits are on the outside of them. I can tell you it’s the dried herbs that have swelled with the beef dripping and then roasted into crunchy bits and are stuck to the outside of the potatoes. Another source of pride for me personally was that I was able to cut fresh herbs from the garden such as mint and rosemary and fetch cucumbers from the greenhouse.
As the usual suspects turned up and drinks flowed it was deemed a culinary success of epic proportions. Due to the immense heat of the fire pit and the more than welcome sunshine, I had lost a lot of fluids in perspiration and I did what I could to re-hydrate. This amounted to 10 cans of Strong bow and a full bottle of Bourbon before hitting the gin by which time THE BEAST, his mad brother and me were in fine form and full of joviality (not to mention sprits, literally) as the heavens opened and we all adjourned indoors.
Apart from a wonderful day cooking and drinking the highlight was a ritual sacrifice of some one who had not heard of Robert Johnson. TB’s daughter had brought along her boyfriend who was into music. After much quizzing of his tastes and knowledge we discovered that he had never heard of the founder of modern music, a certain Mr Robert Johnson. We made him sit and watch the greatest film of all time, Crossroads, starring Ralph Macchio and Joe Seneca and then asked him questions about it afterwards. Whether through nerves or sheer terror about being quizzed by his girlfriend’s father, his even madder brother and a machete wielding pit master who believes that Robert Johnson is the one and only true King (Elvis fans take note, Elvis was a mere pretender) the poor lad stuttered and clammed up. What is certain is he won’t forget who Robert was and what he did and how important he was to the field of modern Rock ‘n’ Roll (or as our Japanes chums call it Lock N Loll), for the rest of his life.
As the day turned to night and then into early morning and the guests slowly left for home, it was agreed the event had been a complete success and Tedstock which is only a few days away has a lot to live up to. However, I am sure that the prequel can be bettered both in terms of culinary refinement and spirit and I can say I have not looked forward to an event with so much fervour for a long time. Roll on Tedstock, and in the immortal words of Wille Brown aka Blind Dog Fulton and Smokehouse Brown, "bring it on I say, let the lightning boy do his magic"!!!